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Press Release

16 People Sentenced To Lengthy Terms For Drug Trafficking And Money Laundering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
Leader Gets More Than 30 Years

LAREDO, Texas – Several members of a large scale drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating out of the Zapata area from approximately 2006 through 2011 have received significant federal prison sentences, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. 

The sentences were imposed in Laredo federal court by U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña yesterday and Tuesday of this week.   

The convictions and sentences were the result of a more than three-year investigation into a drug trafficking and money laundering organization based out of Zapata. The organization was led by Pedro Navarro Jr., 38, of Zapata, who received a sentence of 364 months in federal prison.

The others primarily worked for Navarro and were responsible for transporting drugs and/or large amounts of cash which represented the proceeds of drug sales for Navarro or helping others to do so. These 15 defendants, 14 of whom are residents of various places in the Zapata area, were sentenced to varying terms as outlined below.

            Alex Navarro, 23:  131 months
            Andres Quintero-Ortiz, 48:  127 months
            Servando Guerrero Jr., 38:  174 months
            Sandalio Ramos, 44:  224 months  
            Rene Davila, 31:  93 months
            Leonel Rodriguez, 43:  240 months
            Juan Luis Rivera, 31:  131 months 
            Jorge Grajeda Jr., 30:  46 months
            Juan Antonio Valadez Sr., 55:  63 months
            Jose Luis Gonzalez-Chapa, 24:  93 months
            Judith Zamora, 27:  93 months
            Claudia Medrano, 28:  108 months
            Leonides Navarro, 23: 87 months
            Maria Micaela Berrones, 25:  58 months 
            James Clinton Crabtree (of Immokalee, Fla.), 30:  33 months 

The members of these conspiracies would primarily transport drugs which had been brought into the United States from Mexico from Zapata to other parts of the United States. The drugs would typically be smuggled into the United States in small boats which crossed Falcon Lake at night from Mexico into Zapata. The boats then docked at a house maintained by Navarro on the shores of Falcon Lake where the drugs were unloaded and stored before being transported. Navarro and his co-conspirators subsequently transported these drugs from Zapata to other parts of Texas and beyond, to include the South Florida area. The members of the conspiracy also would then bring the proceeds from the sales of these drugs back to the Zapata area and ultimately into Mexico in order to promote the continuation of the drug trafficking activities. This investigation ultimately led to the conviction of Navarro and the others as well as the seizure of more than five kilograms of methamphetamine and 6,000 kilograms of marijuana.

Over the course of the conspiracy, evidence further showed the members of conspiracy were also responsible for generating proceeds from that activity in the amount of at least $18 million.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Public Safety and Webb County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Arthur R. Jones is prosecuting.

Updated April 30, 2015